Cats have been our feline royal companions for as long as we can remember. Fiercely independent, soft, and fluffy, they capture our hearts–and steal a few socks– with their playful and affectionate banter. Whether you’re choosing to cozy up to a little lap puddle or engage in roly-poly play with an energetic kitten, there’s no arguing that cats are extraordinary creatures.
Benefits Of Owning A Cat
Studies have shown that both physical and mental improvements abound for humans who experience the daily joy of “catting around” with their furry partners-in-crime. Many people are quite surprised to find that there are several health benefits to be enjoyed from sharing life with a feline companion. Here are some of the more significant health benefits experienced by cat owners.
Lower Risk Of Heart Disease
A study performed by the National Institute of Health points to cats as having the ability to lower stress levels, which in turn leads to a reduced risk for heart disease. In fact, among those who participated in the study, feline companionship helped lower the risk of stroke and heart attack by as much as 30 percent.
Healthier Bones, Tendons, And Muscles
A cat’s purr is one of the most well-recognized, soothing sounds in the world. It indicates that the kitty is happy and comfortable, and it comes with one added benefit to you–the ability to improve the condition of bone, muscle, and tendon in the human body.
A purr resonates at a vibrational frequency of 20-140 HZ, with this range of frequencies being tied to a remarkable ability to improve the healing of bone, muscle, and tendon tissue. Some sports and physical therapists have now started to implement the use of this type of sound to help patients heal after injuries and surgical procedures.
Sorry, friends, the cat purr results in higher quality sleep than snoring from your side of the bed. Several studies across the United Kingdom have found that people, women, in particular, prefer to sleep with their cats rather than their partners. Recent studies from the Mayo Clinic Sleep Center confirmed that nearly 41 percent of people slept better with their pets. Only 20 percent indicated that they were disturbed by the additional sound and movement.
Ability To Attract A Partner
Pet researcher Dr. June Nicolls conducted a study of several hundred women who cited that they were more attracted to men with pets. Over 90 percent of the women in the study indicated that men who owned cats were believed to be kinder and more caring than those who owned different animals.
Reduced Stress And Anxiety
Having a feline companion weaving in and out of your feet can trigger the release of calming chemicals in the body that help to lower stress and anxiety. A simple petting session or playful exchange is enough to keep you and your pet happy for hours.
Fewer Allergies And Respiratory Problems
The National Institute of Health reported as recently as 2002 that children under one year of age that were repeatedly exposed to a cat were far less likely to develop allergies and chemical sensitivities than children who were raised without a pet.
Marshal Plaut, M.D., claims that “high pet exposure early in life appears to protect against pet allergies and other types of common allergies such as dust mites, ragweed, and grass.”
Proficiency With Social Media
It turns out that even viewing cat videos on the internet can yield you some of the same physical and mental health benefits as owning a feline friend. A study performed at Indiana University Bloomington revealed that watching cat videos boosted energy levels and positive emotions while significantly lowering negative responses to stimuli. While it’s not justification for wiling away the hours on YouTube, a few therapeutic sessions could do you good.
No Substitute For Companionship
Life is just richer with cat companions, and if you’re in the market for your next furry friend, one breed you should consider checking out is the Selkirk Rex. The Selkirk Rex is a medium-sized cat that shares traits with other cats classified as “Rex,” those with wavy or curly hair. The Devon Rex and the Cornish Rex both share this thick, wavy trait that begs to be played with much like you would a stuffed animal.
The appearance of a Selkirk Rex gives the impression that this precious pet is having a bad hair day. Sometimes referred to as a feline in sheep’s clothing, the Selkirk Rex cat is perfect for hugging and snuggling with every member of the family.
Selkirk’s Physical Characteristics
The Selkirk Rex is a larger cat, weighing up to 15 pounds. His body is muscular, comprised of solid bones with medium-sized legs and tail. As with larger breeds, this cat can experience slow growth, not reaching full size until around two years old.
The Selkirk Rex’s head is round and shapely, with a broad forehead and full cheeks. Wide-set eyes are large, enhanced by a unique set of curly whiskers. Round tipped ears complete the slightly stocky look of this beautiful feline.
The thick, curly coat of the Selkirk Rex comes in both medium and long lengths. All versions of the coat are extremely dense yet soft, containing a thick undercoat. Kittens may appear to lose their curls as they shed their young fur as their adult curly coat grows in, but rest assured–those curls will appear in all their glory as the Selkirk matures. With all of this additional fur, it’s necessary to keep up with grooming to avoid matting and hair loss; comb out the fur weekly for shorthaired Selkirk Rex, and at least twice weekly if your cat has a long, luxurious coat.
History And Origins Of Selkirk Rex
The Selkirk Rex is still considered a new breed, having been accidentally discovered in 1987. That year, a kitten was birthed by an American shorthair, the only one of the pack to have luxuriously curly fur. Persian breeder Jeri Newman noticed this genetic anomaly. Jeri adopted the cat, naming her Miss DePesto.
In doing a bit of legwork as to the cat’s origin, Newman discovered that the feral cat that had given birth to this unusual litter also had a unique coat, despite giving birth to other kittens with straight hair. Jeri successfully bred Miss Depesto with one of her treasured Persian cats, and this resulted in three out of six kittens possessing curly fur. It was quickly deduced that the gene responsible for this anomaly was a dominant one, for it superseded the genetic predisposition of any other cat paired with Miss DePesto.
Subsequent breeding’s for this busy lady included gene expression for a pointed coat and long hair. Pleased with the results of her work thus far, Newman decided to name the breed after her father, Selkirk, with Rex added to indicate the presence of thick curls.
Continued work with the breed includes outcrossing with the Persian, the exotic cat, the Himalayan, the American shorthair, and even the British shorthair and Norwegian forest cat to see the full extent of its genetic traits and expression. As of 1994, the Selkirk Rex cat breed has now been officially recognized by the American Cat Fanciers Association and other distinguished cat associations.
Selkirk Rex Personality Traits And Characteristics
The Selkirk Rex breed takes the absolute best from its various backgrounds and associations. He retains his cuddliness like Persian ancestors, remains easy-going and laid back, much like the British shorthair, and has the vivacious tendency to play like an exotic cat. He’ll jump into almost all social situations with excitement and optimism, fitting well into virtually any home with little need for adaptations.
Thankfully, the Selkirk Rex kitten takes well to having his coat stroked, for few can pass up an opportunity to sink their fingers into those soft, lush curls. He is happy to snuggle with both adults and children. Those who own this disheveled yet adorable cat should be prepared to give a bit of breed information to visitors who might raise questions about your ability to care for your pet.
Selkirk Rex loves to play, and they retain their playfulness and desire to be stimulated well into adulthood. Quite sociable themselves, they’re equally as content to play with you as they’re to attack a ball of string for hours on end but make sure you check in on them from time to time to ensure that they’re not getting into mischief.
This curly cat gets along well with other pets, cats and dogs included, but they do not do well if left alone. If you’re a family that’s constantly on the go, consider adding another pet to your family to keep your curly-haired kitten company during the day.
The Selkirk Rex is ideal for those who desire a wavy coat, yet need a more laid-back temperament than cousins Cornish Rex and Devon Rex. They’ll adapt to their new living environment very well if given some loving attention and consistent company.
Training A Selkirk Rex
Because the Selkirk Rex cat retains much of its youthful, playful nature throughout its life, you must take a firm hand when directing appropriate and inappropriate actions from the very first meeting. This breed is exceptionally intelligent and can get into all sorts of mischief if you do not properly train him.
Selkirk thrives on positive reinforcement; giving snuggles and treats as rewards for good behavior will quickly establish a beneficial relationship between you and your cat. The use of a clicker has also been shown to work quite effectively with this breed, as they will pick up on the sound and associate it with something desirable that’s soon to come.
Selkirk needs plenty of physical exercise and stimulation to enjoy a healthy, quality life. A cat tree, stimulating toys, and plenty of room to run and climb are essential pieces of health and stimulation for this active cat. While they play hard, they snuggle and nap equally well, preferring to curl up on your lap or near you for some much-needed sleep.
Selkirk can be trained to use a leash and embark on daily walks with you and your family, provided you get them used to this activity gradually. Introduce the leash and harness in short bursts, letting your cat take the lead with respect to becoming more comfortable with it. Once you’ve had enough time and the kitty is acquainted with the feeling and pull of a leash/harness, try some short walks around your neighborhood for fresh air and additional exercise.
Caring For A Selkirk Rex
The Selkirk breed needs many of the same amenities that any domestic cat requires. Litter, food, water, a pet bed, and various toys are the basics, but if you want your cat to shine, follow these simple steps for optimal health.
Groom Kitty’s Coat
Brush Selkirk’s coat at least twice weekly. Because of its thick, curly composition, the fur attracts dirt and other debris that can cause matting and other issues. Be careful not to yank too hard on fur, as you may end up stretching out those delicate curls. Using a pet-specific tool, they can brush their back, neck, head, tummy, and legs.
Your Selkirk Rex will bathe itself with its tongue, but you may want to periodically give your cat a fresh start with a moisturizing shampoo for curly hair. Dry lightly with a towel and allow your cat’s fur to air dry for several hours. While your kitty may not relish this experience the first few times you attempt to bathe them, this will be a good practice to establish as they get older to combat some of those bigger messes it could encounter.
Brush Teeth Regularly
Like other cat breeds, the Selkirk is prone to developing periodontal disease; frequent tooth brushing can help discourage the formation of plaque that can lead to tooth decay. Most veterinarians are content to hear that you’re brushing about once weekly, though a few extra sessions every now and then won’t hurt. Ask your veterinarian for expert tips on how to properly brush to make the process easier and more comfortable for both of you. Choose a pet-specific toothbrush and vet-approved toothpaste at your neighborhood pet supply store.
Swab Ears And Eyes
Selkirk Rex cats aren’t necessarily prone to the development of eye and ear issues, but they’ll need to be cleaned and checked occasionally. Wipe weepy eyes gently with a Kleenex as needed, and check ears regularly for dirt and wax buildup. If you notice accumulation, gently wipe it out with a cotton ball.
Trim Nails As Needed
Cats naturally desire to sharpen and scratch nails against hard surfaces, which is enough to keep most nails in shape. If your indoor cat does not have the opportunity to sharpen and shape as needed, you’ll have to assist with a nail clipper from time to time. Hold kitty in your lap, massaging its paw, then gently press the toe pad to extend its nails. Use a clipper to trim the white part of the nails, avoiding the quick, which could damage their paw. If you’re not comfortable performing this care step at home, ask your vet for grooming establishment suggestions to do the delicate work for you.
Following these simple tips should keep you out of the veterinarian’s office for major illnesses. Still, you should familiarize yourself with the genetic traits and diseases that can come with owning a Selkirk. At times, veterinary medicine intervention will be needed to deal with more severe health issues that you may experience with your cat.
Health Conditions To Look For
All cats are predisposed to certain health conditions, and these may or may not pop up as the cat ages, depending on the amount of preventative care he receives. Selkirk Rex cats are particularly susceptible to conditions like polycystic kidney disease, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and hip dysplasia.
Polycystic kidney disease can cause cystic degeneration of the kidneys, leading to complete kidney failure if not treated. Signs of illness usually crop up around 7 to 10 years of age. Ask your vet to begin screening for PKD around this time, especially if your cat has Himalayan or Persian lineage.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is one of the most common forms of heart disease found in felines. The condition causes thickening and hardening of the heart muscle, eventually leading to complete heart failure.
Hip dysplasia is a hereditary condition in which one or more hip sockets are defective. This causes no pain but can result in an inability of your cat to walk correctly. Hip dysplasia can be corrected with surgery, though time and care will be needed to address pre and post-surgical concerns.
Taking a new Selkirk kitten into your home is a responsibility, and it requires ongoing care and attention to preserve and protect his health. Follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for health care, and look forward to many rewarding years with your companion.
Where To Find Selkirk Rex Kittens
As with any cat breeder, there are reputable institutions and those who aren’t upstanding in their business and breeding practices. Look to knowledgeable websites such as the Cat Fancier’s Association, International Cat Association, and the Fanciers Breeder Referral List for recommendations on finding quality kittens.
Know what important questions to ask a potential breeder to determine if they’re a reputable source. Beware of breeders letting you know that they have “kittens readily available” or those who ask for “payment by credit card” before you have a chance to meet kittens face to face. No reputable breeder abides by this code of ethics; they want to ensure that they place their precious brood into quality homes. They will evaluate you as thoroughly as you’re vetting their institution.
If you’re okay with taking on an adult cat, adoption may be the perfect option, provided you can find a rescue website or organization that caters specifically to Selkirk Rex. These animals have likely been displaced due to divorce, death, and natural disasters that make it necessary to rehome them.
Embarking On A Rewarding Journey
Taking on a new pet is a time-consuming commitment, yet the experience of owning something as unique as a Selkirk Rex can be an exciting journey for the whole family. Your cuddly companion will jump right into family life and be up for any activity and opportunity for building relationships that will enrich everyone’s lives.